Off the Top: Resource Entries


December 3, 2014

24 Ways: A Web Holiday Favorite

Nothing makes me happier than to see the winter holiday begin and 24 Ways start its annual release of web development and design goodness. Drew McLellan and the 24 Ways crew have done another great job and I look forward eagerly for every day’s gem that is released.

To make all of this better, 24 Ways is in its 10th year. Congratulations for all the great content and work, from the very first to the current offering of the day.



September 28, 2010

As If Had Read

The idea of a tag "As If Had Read" started as a riff off of riffs with David Weinberger at Reboot 2008 regarding the "to read" tag that is prevalent in many social bookmarking sites. But, the "as if had read" is not as tongue-in-cheek at the moment, but is a moment of ah ha!

I have been using DevonThink on my Mac for 5 or more years. It is a document, note, web page, and general content catch all that is easily searched. But, it also pulls out relevance to other items that it sees as relevant. The connections it makes are often quite impressive.

My Info Churning Patterns

I have promised for quite a few years that I would write-up how I work through my inbound content. This process changes a lot, but it is back to a settled state again (mostly). Going back 10 years or more I would go through my links page and check all of the links on it (it was 75 to 100 links at that point) to see if there was something new or of interest.

But, that changed to using a feedreader (I used and am back to using Net News Wire on Mac as it has the features I love and it is fast and I can skim 4x to 5x the content I can in Google Reader (interface and design matters)) to pull in 400 or more RSS feeds that I would triage. I would skim the new (bold) titles and skim the content in the reader, if it was of potential interest I open the link into a browser tab in the background and just churn through the skimming of the 1,000 to 1,400 new items each night. Then I would open the browser to read the tabs. At this stage I actually read the content and if part way through it I don't think it has current or future value I close the tab. But, in about 90 minutes I could triage through 1,200 to 1,400 new RSS feed items, get 30 to 70 potential items of value open in tabs in a browser, and get this down to a usual 5 to 12 items of current or future value. Yes, in 90 minutes (keeping focus to sort the out the chaff is essential). But, from this point I would blog or at least put these items into Delicious and/or Ma.gnolia or Yahoo MyWeb 2.0 (this service was insanely amazing and was years ahead of its time and I will write-up its value).

The volume and tools have changed over time. Today the same number of feeds (approximately 400) turn out 500 to 800 new items each day. I now post less to Delicious and opt for DevonThink for 25 to 40 items each day. I stopped using DevonThink (DT) and opted for Yojimbo and then Together.app as they had tagging and I could add my context (I found my own context had more value than DevonThink's contextual relevance engine). But, when DevonThink added tagging it became an optimal service and I added my archives from Together and now use DT a lot.

Relevance of As if Had Read

But, one of the things I have been finding is I can not only search within the content of items in DT, but I can quickly aggregate related items by tag (work projects, long writing projects, etc.). But, its incredible value is how it has changed my information triage and process. I am now taking those 30 to 40 tabs and doing a more in depth read, but only rarely reading the full content, unless it is current value is high or the content is compelling. I am acting on the content more quickly and putting it into DT. When I need to recall information I use the search to find content and then pull related content closer. I not only have the item I was seeking, but have other related content that adds depth and breath to a subject. My own personal recall of the content is enough to start a search that will find what I was seeking with relative ease. But, were I did a deeper skim read in the past I will now do a deeper read of the prime focus. My augmented recall with the brilliance of DevonThink works just as well as if I had read the content deeply the first time.



February 25, 2008

Paparazzi on Mac Fix-up

Since I upgraded to Apple's Mac Leopard I have had intermittent issues with Paparazzi for Mac, a webpage screen grab tool that will make an image of the full page. I am not sure what version I had, but am fairly sure it was still version 0.4.3 from my Tiger build. My issue was it would not render pages and would just stay blank.

In search of a remedy I went to the Paparazzi page and grabbed the 0.5 beta. When I loaded this on my MacBook Pro with Leopard 10.5.2 it the application would just crash. This was a step in the wrong direction.

One thing to keep in mind is I am a huge fan of Skitch, which I use for capturing sub-page elements. The ease of use, beauty in the interaction would make it really difficult for another tool to supplant the viewable screen grabs and sub-page screen grabs of Skitch. The freakishly ease of moving grabs and images out of Skitch into the apps and places I need to use the images and places I want and need to share them is unparalleled in any other application on any platform. So, I am looking for a full webpage screen grab tool

Call for Help on Twitter

I put a call out to friends on Twitter for an alternate resource. As is normal with Twitter I had a response with in minutes and many responses in 30 minutes. Jorge Arango made the great suggestion of using FireFox Extension - ScreenGrab, which I loaded and does a good job. Occasionally, I want to grab images of variances across many browsers, so I kept listening.

Another FireFox and Mozilla offering was surfaced by Joshua Porter of Page Saver by Pearl Crescent. The full paid version offers sub-page screen grabs, but it whole of the tool looks decent.

Nate Koechley stated his Paparazzi 0.4.3 was running just fine on his Leopard 10.5 and 10.5.2 installs. I went back to Paparazzi and grabbed the 0.4.3 install and used it to replace the 0.5 beta install. I started up Paparazzi and it ran just fine, just like it used to. The bugginess with my old install may have been that I had not recompiled Paparazzi to run under Leopard, which is what reloading essentially performed.

I am not one to always stop looking once I found what I was looking for (things are not always in the last place you look), so I listened to The Ronin and his suggestion for WebSnapper from Tasty Apps, which looks to be the next step up from Paparazzi with the breadth of output it offers. But, the downside is WebSnapper does not offer a preview of the output page as Paparazzi does.

The Result

It looks like Paparazzi (repaired) 0.4.3 will be my replacement for Paparazzi for pages it will deal with and WebSnapper will be its likely back-up. I hope that one day Skitch offers a full-page screen grab of web pages, but that day is not today. I am deeply appreciative of all those that offered their responses on Twitter.



August 20, 2007

Ma.gnolia Portable Social Networking Group Now Open

I have been talking with people about portable social networks for 18 months or more and initially blogged about it last November (2006) in my post Following Friends Across Walled Gardens. Recently the portable social network effort has flowed into Microformats: Social Network Portability. I have been following Brian Oberkirk's portable social network blog posts and we have had more than a few chats about this in the last few months. Finally it seems that some core geeks are on this quest as well, thanks to a gathering of minds at Foo Camp with Brad Fitzpatrick and David Recordon posting Thoughts on the Social Graph and the starting of the Social Network Portability Google Group. The oauth (more info on OpenAuth). Kevin Lawver has been rocking the real world with his Portable Social Networks at Mashup Camp discussion and example.

Ma.gnolia Portable Social Network Group

Tracking these small bits that are loosely joined needed a little more glue. To this end I started a ma.gnolia group for portable social networking to aggregate links. Already there is a good groups of people joining the group, which is promising. I have been critical of Ma.gnolia in the past, but they have iterated and built a social bookmarking site that has become my favorite social bookmarking service (Clipmarks is my second favorite when I need to just hold onto sub-page items). If you want to keep follow, keep track of the current site, or (even better) contribute bookmarks as well as join in discussion join the group. Ma.gnolia makes joining insanely simple by using OpenID for account creation and login (should you be part of the modern web world - such as having an AOL AIM account).



February 14, 2006

Yahoo! Releases Web Developer Golden Nuggets

An e-mail from Nate tipped me off to the Yahoo! releases today. We now have at our finger tips, Yahoo! User Interface Library, the same libraries that power Yahoo! Yahoo! Design Patterns Library, which has been the culmination of a lot of effort and is considered to be the best internal resource around and is now in our hands. Yahoo! User Interface Blog and its corresponding Yahoo! User Interface Blog feeds. Lastly, Yahoo! delivers a Graded Browser Support (article).

Once again Yahoo! shows it gets community involvement with developers and is becoming a killer resource. This is the kind of involvement and giving that raises the level for all web developers. Bravo Yahoo! and thank you Nate for your involvement.



December 14, 2005

Structured Blogging has (Re)Launched

Structured Blogging has launched and it may be one of the brightest ideas of 2005. This has the capability to pull web services into nearly every page and to aggregate information more seamlessly across the web. The semantic components help pull all of this together so services can be built around them.

This fits wonderfully in the Model of Attraction framework by allowing people and tools to attract the information they want, in this case from all around the web far more easily than ever before.

[Update] A heads-up from Ryan pointed out this is a relaunch. Indeed, Structured Blogging is pointing out all of the groups that are supporting and integrating the effort. The newest version is of Structured Blogging is now microformat friendly (insanely important).



July 12, 2005

The World in Our Hands

SmartMobs announces It is official, there are more cellphones lines than landlines in the U.S.. I was thinking about this in the past couple weeks. We have already started seeing text and data uses tipping our mobile hands (it is about time we started getting to where much of the rest of the globe has already been).

Now if I could just keep my finger on the number of data enable phones and the lesser number of laptop/desktop internet connections for the globe. Every time I see this number I forget to mark it or grab it.

[Hat tip Anne]



August 3, 2004

UXnet Aims to Unite the Splinters

Having trouble figuring what group will help you in your carreer as as a web designer that keeps information architecture, usability, interaction design, experience design, etc. in your toolbelt?

It seems there is a group that has come togther to help be the glue and bring all of these splintered groups together. UXnet aims to be the glue that draws the groups together. Many designers and UX/IA/ExD/Etc folks are lost in finding one good home and one or two good conferences. There are many resources, too many is what much of these designers and researchers say. Many of us wear many hats and need a good cross pollination to get better.

I have hope that UXnet will help close the chasm that keeps everybody apart. There are representatives from many groups as a part of the team pulling things together.



June 18, 2004

Webmonkey Comes Back To Life

Oddly, Webmonkey seems to have come back to life today. There is a new articles on Contribute2 dated June 18, 2004. Just below that is a note stating it is back alive and kicking (not dated). Anybody have the scoop?



May 13, 2004

Digital Web is 8 and in New Clothes

Digital Web is now eight years old and has new clothes to boot. Deepest congratulations to Nick and all others who have made this a great Web resource with staying power.



January 17, 2004

Quick list of Treo Resources

A handful of Treo resources: Treo Central (info & store); Treo 600 World (news & store); Handango - Palm Software (software review and purchase); MobileWhack Palm (reviews and links); and TreoMB (news, reviews, & message boards).



December 27, 2003

Great OmniOutliner Overview and Resource

OmniOutliner is one of my favorite applications for the Mac. I tend to do a lot of my thinking in OmniOutliner. Giles Turnbull offers a great overview in Flexible OmniOutliner over at O'Reilly Net's Mac DevCenter. The insights include outputting the outlines into iPod, MS Word, Keynote, and much more.



December 4, 2003

CSS Cribsheet

I nearly forgot, Dave Shea has come up with a CSS cribsheet that flat out rocks. Dabbling or living in CSS? Use it.



August 1, 2003

Information Design Explained at Design Council

The Design Council has a fantastic overview of Information Design, written by Sue Walker and Linda Reynolds. This series covers why it is important to business and public service along with examples, challenges, where to find out more, and so much more.



July 2, 2003

Movies with iSight

Derrik Story provides Making Movies with the Apple iSight, which can be done on the cheap. This could make Mike's idea of a roving reporter using WiFi more viable.



May 21, 2003

Joshua changes before our eyes

Things have been a little busy around these parts of late. One site you should be watching is Joshua's redesign. Joshua is learning many of the painful lessons in a CSS redesign. Joshua has not only been redesigning and documenting in front of our eyes, but he has been sharing his resources. Joshua just rocks as he learned the mantra of the Web is to share openly. He has also learned Windows IE 6 is not your friend as it does not render valid CSS properly. Go get 'em Joshua



April 13, 2003

Perl for Website Management book site

The Perl for Website Management book is helpful, but even more so are the samples found at the book site. There is even a Perl for Website Management book Wiki that has some of the samples and some other related info.

I have found the book to be very helpful for giving ideas and means to approach dealing with Web access logs.



March 11, 2003

Boxes and Arrows Birthday

Happy Birthday Boxes and Arrows. It is Boxes and Arrows one year anniversary. It seems like so much longer, but to some of us it has been a little longer. There have been a flood of great articles that have shared knowledge and experiences to help us all get better at what we do. I am looking foreward to the next anniversaries and looking back too.



January 26, 2003

Learning proper French Cooking at and Inn

We has a wonderful weekend at a L'Academie de Cuisine French Cooking weekend held at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Inn was fantastic, with wonderful accommodations, great common rooms, caring innkeepers that are friendly and very helpful, and very good food.

The cooking portion of the weekend was great. It was a present from Joy and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. The weekend revolved around the founder of L'Academie, Francois Dionot guiding the 14 students through making a four course French meal each day. The 14 split into four teams that prep and cook their portion of the meal. The meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Inn, which is just large enough for the 14, the instructor and his wonderfully helpful wife, and one person helping clean-up. Saturday's meal was a Cream of Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup with a Roquefort Flan, Quennelle of Salmon with Saffron Butter Sauce (our dish we helped create), Beef Goulash with Mashed Potatoes, and a Caramelized Pear Cake with Calvados Creme Anglaise. Today's menu was a Bourride of Fish with Aioli, Quail Salad with Polenta and Porcini Dressing (our dish), Chicken Blanquette with Root Vegetables (including salsify), Phyllo Tart of Chocolate and Raspberry with Chocolate Sauce.

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Francios is a perfectionist as one would expect and hope for as it pushed us to expand beyond what we knew. We also learned about adding more salt, not table salt, but wonderful sea salt (Sel de Mer) and kosher salt (containing all the minerals that should be in salt). Everything that was made was wonderful and a glass of wine was raised to the team that helped create that course. We also met wonderful people also taking the course, which was an added blessing. We plan to make courses at L'Academie a regular part of our lives and hope the rest of them are as fulfilling as this weekend.



January 16, 2003

Web Techniques / New Architect says Buh-Bye

R.I.P. Web Techniques / New Architect. Amit and Maggie shared the news.

This is a sad note, but also one that seems to show how things have changed. How many of us were excited when the new issues of Web Techniques arrived or were anxious when it was late? The publication changed over time as did the market for the magazine. The need for a printed magazine changed over time, but having a printed article to show clients or superiors was a great help as they discounted the information printed from the Web (I don't know how much this has changed). There are many Web based outlets for similar information and similar quality of information, Boxes and Arrows, Digital Web, A List Apart, and O'Reilly Network to name a few. None the less, we morn this day and get back to building a better Web.



December 13, 2002

Usability Net from the EU - Updated

UsabilityNet is a solid resource put out by the EU. There are many great resources, like the methods table, but there were also many visual presentation and structural problems that kept me from getting the most out of the site. On the top page there presentation is very cluttered and the image buttons are not easy to scan, or for that matter read (here a text links with CSS would offer much better readability and would easily be resizable for those with visual difficulties). The inside pages often have two layers of navigation, but use a visual presentation that not only had me slightly baffled, but other Web development and design professionals too. Not only are there two layers of hierarchial navigation layers on the top, but there are sometimes left navigation provided. I really was not sure what the differences were between the second tier top nav and the left nav as they were similar.

I completely agree with Beth that the Usability for Managers section offers great resources. This page gives solid reasoning behind the benefits of using usability testing and development.

The area where this site could use the most improvement is the accessibility of some of the informaiton. The methods table is a great idea with a solid presentation, but it is not accessible in the slightest for folks with disabilities or those using mobile devices. The largest disappointment is the page is not printable.

In all this will be a great site if they can get through some of the structure and presentation issues. It seems ironic that the site has usability problems, but it is a young site with a great future and I have no doubt they will get there.

[hat tip Beth]



December 4, 2002

PHP Architect mag launches

The PHP Architect Magazine launched, which seems would make a wonderful pairing to The Perl Journal (TPJ). This could be two great resources produced for those that believe in the power and stability of open source scripting.


October 17, 2002

Nathan and Peter explain UCD

Meryl has wonderful interview with Peter Merholz and Nathan Shedroff on User-Centered Design over at Digital Web.


October 1, 2002

AppleTechs gets moving again

Damien has his AppleTechs running again. This has been on hold since late April and it will be so nice to have this back and running again as both of these sites are great resources for Apple users.


June 30, 2002

Font size sample gallery

A sample browser font size gallery is available for the Microsoft fonts (Ariel, Courier New, Timew New Roman, Verdana).


June 26, 2002

Windows to Mac OS X keystroke conversions

Terrie Miller offers former Windows users tips to using Mac OS X. This is the type of resouce I have been looking for, and I know there are many others out there looking for the same thing. I have asked and in turn have answered some of these keyboard and keystroke questions. The keystrokes took a little adjusting to, but nothing that a couple hours of retraining muscle memory could not cure.


June 1, 2002

CCS with Moz bugs annotated

From the "this will be insanely helpful" department, CSS-1 with annotated Mozilla bugs. This could be a first-turn resource when the huhs? start. [hat tip Scott]


May 26, 2002

Unix tips of OS X

Unix Tips for Mac OS X is a good place to get below the surface of OS X. You know you want to.


May 25, 2002

OS X Wiki - Dive into OS X

An OS X Wiki site DiveIntoOSX, this looks promissing. [hat tip Andrew]


April 29, 2002

Becoming an RSS channel

The old, but still useful, John Udell Becoming an RSS Channel will be helpful in the next week or two (well at least for me).


April 28, 2002

UNIX and Mac OS X guide

I finally got my hands on a copy of Mac OS X Unleashed, which is a great resource. Not only does it provide indepth understanding of the Mac side of OS X, but it provides an excellent resource for the UNIX side too. I have had problems getting Perl's CPAN running through the "make" process for some modules. This book seems to give me enough understanding of the foundations to get me through the processes. I have knowledge of UNIX and Linux and each variant has its own twist, which is not a bad thing.


April 16, 2002

Related to using the proper URL in the doctype, IE 6 renders table content as centered when wrapping the table with center tag. The article explains when this happens and how to work around the problem. One option is not using centering (either in a div align or in the deprecated center tag). It seems setting the CSS is the best work around. We have found using the center tag to be far more problematic than the div align usage of center. (Yes, we have to support "older" browsers at work).


March 13, 2002

Boxes and Arrows is finally live.


February 18, 2002

A site that is new to me and worth keeping track of is Apple Lust. Currently they are focussing on digita photography and digital images.


February 7, 2002

DM Review provides a history of metadata and the future of metadata in one article, what more could you want. It is a good overview of the past tools and goals of metadata. Central to providing a solid information application is understanding the data and information we are working with. This understanding allows us to tie is to other information to give that data better depth and this is best done with metadata. Metadata help explains the data and allows for data to be tied (or joined) to other data.

An example would be putting together a quick view of all products sold in an ice cream truck. The driver has a small computer that captures all the sales he has makes throughout the day. At certain intervals he synchs his sales to a central computer so that he can easily stop back at the warehouse and stock up on items he is low on. The driver has sold 7 of ab4532 and 16 of tr78t in the past hour. He has had requests for pp887 too. This information is useful for the computers and the data has meaning, but it needs some metadata to know that he will need 7 of Abners Glow-cicles, 16 Tricky Rootbeer pops, a carton of covered paper cups. This metadata will help the person that will prepare these items for the driver's arrival at the warehouse. The "pp" indicates that a paper product is needed and the number following is its actual product code. The raw data now has meaning with tanks to the metadata.


Previous Month

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.